Sunday, February 28, 2010

Push for Playoffs

Here we go. Time to make the playoffs.

Being so far removed from the city I root for in professional sports can actually make it more stressful. Rather than going through the ups and downs (downs mostly) with friends and family, I go through them alone, and completely misunderstood.

Yeah, cry me a river right?

Well, all I'm saying is when I start to have daily heart attacks, my coworkers are not the people to turn to. I guess I became quite spoiled over the past few years being surrounded by huge hockey fans who shared my passion and lived and died with me.

I think I have made my prediction for the next month or so quite clear. It will be stressful making the playoffs. I don't think we've seen the worst. If the Wings don't go on a seven or eight game winning streak, things will definitely come down to the wire.

This year, instead of the playoffs arriving in April in the "D," they are already there. This is actually kind of cool. Yeah, it is going to be stressful. But, I am going to try to sit back and enjoy the ride.

Let's go.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Not Brodeur's Fault, Nice Break From NHL Season

Let me get one thing straight: Martin Brodeur did not lose the game for the Canadians.

If you think he did, then you are the problem. Canada wants you to think that.

You cannot judge the outcome of a hockey game based on a couple plays by a goaltender.

Brodeur had a couple things not go his way. But he did not lose that game for them.

Moving forward.

The NHL Break:

Amidst all this talk and speculation about the NHL pulling out of future Olympics, I find myself actually enjoying the break. Mainly due to the somewhat horrific season Detroit has had - especially of late. But it's nice to watch the NHL-ers compete against some other guys, and personally I've always enjoyed international hockey.

For Detroit, I believe the break will do them good. They were in a downward spiral for a while. They needed a change of pace - anything. Plus, I think it will help Johan Franzen get up to speed.

I really don't agree with those who claim the Olympic break screws up the NHL season. If anything, it makes for better hockey afterwards. Players will tell you, February and March is when all the aches start to really bother them. The majority of guys are probably loving this time off. They don't have to travel. They get to heal their wounds. They get to finish the season feeling better than ever. Hence, better hockey.

I'm not suggesting they do this every year, even when there isn't an Olympics. I just have not heard a good enough reason not to compete.

The only reason the NHL should not send players to the Olympics is if all other professional leagues pull out. An amateur Olympics is fine by me. But I'm totally against some professionals being involved and others not.

Monday, February 22, 2010

USA Beats Canada

Team USA's 5-3 victory over Canada Sunday may have surprised a lot of people. However, those of us who follow the NHL religiously will make note of one game element which has seemingly prevailed in the league all season - youth.
Take a look at the standings and the top teams' rosters - most of them have a strong group of youngsters leading the way.
So it is absolutely no surprise to see USA's youth steal this game from Canada's finest.

However, I'd be lying if I were to say I'd bet big on it before the game.

The US needed three things to go their way from the get-go: 1. They absolutely had to score first. Quieting the Canadian fans was huge. Scoring less than a minute into the first period was probably the most effective way to do it.

2. USA needed Ryan Miller to bring his calm consistency. You can check that one off the list. Miller was basically a machine. He made a lot of ridiculously difficult saves look easy. He did it by never losing control and never getting too far out of position. He put on a goal tending clinic. Moreover, he put on an dealing-with-anxiety clinic. The man never gets rattled. Even Martin Brodeur looked inferior.

3. Canada's explosive offense needed to be shaken up and taken out. The US defense needs a huge pat on the back. Of course, Miller was there to bail them out quite a few times. However, Crosby, Heatley and the rest of the gauntlet were off their game after the ultimate first period was handed to them from the US's defense and back checkers. They never looked comfortable with their game in the US zone, until the third period rolled around. By then it was too little too late. (Slap Shot, greatest movie ever)

It wasn't a miracle. Far from it. Team USA capitalized on a Canadian team which was feeling the pressure of an entire country which lives and dies by them.

So what now? Does this mean Canada can forget about gold-medal dreams? No. Realistically this game probably pissed them off and awakened the sleeping giant.

Herb Brooks' words definitely resonate in a time like this.

"You can't win on talent alone, because you guys don't have enough talent."

Well, Team Canada has enough talent to actually win on talent alone. So, they are absolutely still the favorite to win gold.

It was a big win for Team USA and USA hockey in general. Also, I'd go as far to say this was a big win for Gary Bettman's NHL. Bettman is a money-hungry business man. He knows the money is in the American markets. If a USA run for gold means more Americans tuning in to see their countrymen play this sport, old Bitterman will surely be happy. And I agree. He should be. He seemed to have a slight smirk on his face last night after the game. Dollar bills was all that man was thinking.

On a more personal note, I was elated to see Canada go down. I'm pretty sure Sidney cried himself to sleep last night. But I am now worried for Steve Yzerman's life.

The game got really special when Ryan Kesler scored the one-handed, diving open-net goal. The pride of Livonia Michigan. It doesn't get much better than that.

I'd like to make a quick comment on Brian Rafalski: Where did this come from? Four goals already. Does he even have four goals with Detroit all season? (Yeah, he has exactly four) I'm not saying Rafalski should score 20 goals a year. But man, it would really help. He looks great in both zones right now. He's playing like he's 25.

A friend of mine said it best: The state of Michigan beat Canada yesterday. You can thank Miller, Brian Rafalski and Kesler - all native Michiganders.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Sergei Fedorov

It has occurred to me this Winter Olympics may be my last chance to watch my favorite player of all time - Sergei Fedorov.

Fedorov was drafted by Detroit in 1988, fourth round, 78th overall. I grew up idolizing this guy - even more than Steve Yzerman.

He was the best player I had ever seen. He was fast, strong and brilliant with the puck. He could do almost anything. If Detroit decided to put him in net one game, I would have felt confident he could get a shutout.

Then, on December 26, 1996, I witnessed something I knew I would never see again. The Red Wings defeated the Washington Capitals 5-4, in overtime - Sergei had all five Detroit goals. I was at Joe Louis Arena to see it with my own eyes.

I had just turned ten years old. The tickets were a stocking gift from my parents. Naturally, I went to the game with my dad. I always make sure to remind him he can absolutely never get me a better gift than the one he got me back in '96. Hell, I'm satisfied if I never receive another gift again. When you're ten, moments like that last a lifetime.

That game put to rest any doubts I may have had about Fedorov being not only my favorite player, but the best I had ever seen.

If it were up to me, I would put number 91 up in the rafters at JLA. I hope it happens one day.

I know Fedorov took a lot of heat for "selling out" and not "showing up" every night. Honestly, I don't care. He is still the best I've ever seen, period.

He's 40 now. So, I assume this is his last Olympic games. I guess he'll probably retire soon from the Russian leagues. Maybe then I'll be able to see 91 hanging from the blue ceiling of the Joe.

Good luck going for the gold, Sergei, and thanks for all the memories.

The Olympics

Yes, it is the first leg of the 2010 Olympic break.

My picks:

Russia vs. U.S. in the gold medal game, with Russia prevailing.

I really hope Canada gets tossed.

That's it. I'm keeping things short these days. I'm pretty sure this blog is to blame for Detroit's dismal season.


Friday, February 5, 2010

Hello .. again

I promise to take pictures and post them this time.

My pictures will probably just be of stupid Kings fans that I'd like to punch.

The title of the next post will probably be: Stupid Kings Fans Who I Would Love to Punch.




I'm back... kind of.

Well, I've been strangled by my desktop lately. My inbox is filled up with forwards, junk and follow ups. There is little energy left in me at the end of each day, which means I don't usually feel like sitting in front of a computer and blogging.

Regardless, there is always something to say.

I am going to the Wings game tomorrow at the Staples Center.

I am going to stay calm. I can see myself getting in a fight. Luckily, my sister will be with me to make sure that doesn't happen. Most people don't know this, but she has a black belt in shut-the-f-up.

Forget the standings. Forget everything you ever thought you knew about Detroit Red Wings hockey. This is desperation time.

That's all you need to know.